- Bill Williamson, ESPN Staff Writer
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The San Francisco 49ers traded for Gabbert this offseason with the idea of having a reliable backup for Kaepernick and an opportunity to work with Gabbert, who flopped as Jacksonville’s quarterback after being the No. 10 overall pick in the draft.
Part of Gabbert’s job will be to pick up some of Kaepernick’s ability to learn the 49ers’ offense quickly. Coach Jim Harbaugh believes it’s working, but Gabbert still has a ways to go to catch up to Kaepernick.
“He’s showing all the signs of developing quite rapidly and executing very well, sharp in all mental facets in terms of knowing all the plays, and he’s come along,” Harbaugh said. “Colin is farther ahead by an amount where I would say it like this -- Blaine is very smart and he knows the plays, he already has picked up many of the nuances. But Kaep’s at a different level.
"Where Colin’s at a level of the highest level where he can auto correct, as you know, auto correcting in the texting or whatever. Even if a coach makes a mistake, it's wrong in the script, the play is called into him wrong, he just auto corrects it and doesn’t ask, ‘Hey, is that right or is that wrong?’ It’s at the highest level. You just have never seen it, in my experience, like the way he does it right now. It’s great with a capital g, at the highest level, and Blaine’s coming along.”
Harbaugh said he has talked to Gabbert about the process and let him know it will take time. Kaepernick, the No. 36 overall pick in 2011, has taken time to master it.
“I’ve always said, six months later you’re going to be very far along in this system, but not as far along as you will be after a year, and after two years you’ll most likely be an expert in this system,” Harbaugh said.